Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Open Adoption Roundtable # 13

The Open Adoption Roundtable is a series of occasional writing prompts about open adoption. It's designed to showcase of the diversity of thought and experience in the open adoption community. You don't need to be part of the Open Adoption Bloggers list to participate, or even be in a traditional open adoption. If you're thinking about openness in adoption, you have a place at the table.

Publish your response during the next two weeks--linking
back here so we can all find one other--and leave a link to your post in the comments. If you don't blog, you can always leave your thoughts directly in the comments.

Note from
Andy: I am very privileged that Heather has turned this round over to me to host. Thanks for letting me have a seat at the cool kids table!

We often hear about open adoptions where the two sides don't want the same level of openness. First mothers who don't get updates as often as they would like, or not as many visits each year. Or adoptive parents who want to include their child's first mother in his life, but she is not ready.

But what we don't often discuss is when people on the same side of the triad can't agree on the level of openness in an adoption.
  • It could be a wife who wants a fully open adoption but the husband only wants to send letters once a year.
  • Or a first mother isn't ready for an open adoption but the first father wants to be part of the baby's life.
  • Maybe a spouse isn't supportive of their partner entering into reunion with their first mother.
  • Or a partner who came along after the adoption and isn't comfortable with your relationship with your placed child.
  • And the classic Hallmark movie of the year scenario: Your mother-in-law is convinced that the baby will be snatched away from under your nose if you have an open adoption.
How would you navigate these situations? Does your current relationship impact the type of open adoption that you have? How does this affect your current relationship?

I was first prompted to submit this question to Heather back before Christmas when I was trying to finish up a video to send to Liam's mom "K". I had spent a lot of time working on it and had included some videos of Liam where I could be heard on camera prompting him to tell "K" about this or that. And when I had Hilary view the final product we were able to have a great discussion on how our points of view differ on the openness (or lack thereof) in Liam's adoption.

Everyone comes into adoption shaped by their own life experiences. When people become a couple they are bringing 2 sets of world experiences together and trying to make that work. The best relationships are ones that can celebrate each others perspectives with open minds and clear communication. It's not about convincing each other that your way is better or right, or feeling that you have to abandon your own thoughts in order to match up with your partners. As long as everyone is heard and respected, then you can grow together, even when you disagree.

I came into Liam's adoption with 32 years of my own adoption baggage. I grew up not knowing my first family, had spent 10+ years searching for them, had been "reunited" with Iris and was still dealing with all that this new relationship with my first mother meant.

Hilary did not have any adoption baggage. Sure, she had other baggage and perspectives (as did I) but she was more of a blank slate emotionally when it came to adoption issues. And for us, that has been a great balance. She is able to see when it is "my" issue that is coming up and not Liam's. She can help edit a video and tell me when I'm trying too hard and may actually end up pushing "K" even further away.

It's not always easy to hear. I try not to make myself the adoption "expert" in our relationship or go down the road of "Well, I've read X,Y and Z so I know more then you do". Because really? That never helps. We are in this relationship even-steven. With her I can look at things from a whole different perspective that I would have never even considered on my own. Hilary can hear first hand about how an adoptee feels about certain situations. Do we always agree? Heck no! But we always listen and come up with the best solution for all of us. Sometimes it's her way and sometimes it's mine. And sometimes through discussions, we end up down a third unknown path that just feels right.
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